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Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Three

Murder, death and poo is promised in the first five minutes of the latest stage adaptation of Terry Deary and Neal Foster’s ‘Horrible Histories’ series. And your little ‘uns won’t be disappointed: as the show speeds through the history of Britain, from the stone age to WWI, there are hangings, beheadings and lots of talk of cesspits. But amid all that crap and gore, you’ll also likely learn a thing or two.

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Garrick Theatre Until Saturday September 5 2015

Jekyll and Hyde

There’s a fabulously juicy new twist in Jonathan Holloway’s version of this old gothic horror. Here, the good Dr Jekyll is actually a woman and her nasty alter ego Mr Hyde is the man she is trying to become.But though there’s the tantalising promise of a new perspective on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, in ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, the great ideas are fairly underdeveloped.

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Platform Theatre Until Saturday August 8 2015

East End Boys, West End Girls

Between the two Westfields lies a world of divisions: of cultures and classes, of wealth and opportunity, of have and have not. Ade Solanke’s coming of age play clumsily bashes its way through these themes via the mouths of four teenagers. At a scholarship exam for an expensive school, two east London boys, the best of friends, meet two west London girls, also the best of friends.

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Arcola Theatre Until Saturday August 15 2015

The Spitfire Grill

‘Unabashedly manipulative’ and ‘preposterous – that’s how the great Roger Ebert described Lee David Zlotoff’s original film version of ‘The Spitfire Grill’, and he wasn’t half wrong.

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Union Theatre Until Saturday August 15 2015

Three Days in the Country

Has Englishman Patrick Marber written and directed the most Russian play ever?Triple distilled and freely adapted from Ivan Turgenev’s sprawling 1850 comedy of manners ‘A Month in the Country’, Marber’s ‘Three Days in the Country’ doesn’t pussyfoot about with its extreme sense of elegy. Melancholy music and dusky lighting permanently envelop the action on an isolated Russian estate, and if you’ve see any of the great works of Chekhov et al you’ll recognise the characters immediately.

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National Theatre Until Wednesday October 21 2015

Twelfth Night

Summer’s here, so inevitably Shakespeare moves outdoors. Bard-beneath-the-stars aficionados Principal Theatre Company bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to Coram’s Fields in an exuberant production that fittingly channels the childhood spirit of this London park. There’s not much room for subtlety in a jam-packed two hours. But director Christopher Geelan and his cast know how to get laughs from the crowd and everyone’s clearly having a whale of a time.

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Coram's Fields Until Saturday August 8 2015

Songs for a New World

If there was a big ol’ rule book on how to succeed in staging song cycles – musical shows with no narrative but some sort of theme, featuring one composer’s songs performed back to back – then rule one would be ‘get a really, really good cast’. Without one, listening to non-stop show tunes can be a little hard, a little flat and a little boring. Director Adam Lenson has definitely adhered to that golden rule.

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St James Theatre Until Saturday August 8 2015

Sinatra: The Man and his Music

When Harry Hill and Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ musical ‘I Can’t Sing!’ crashed and burned at the start of last year, it was like something broke in musical theatre

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London Palladium Until Saturday October 10 2015

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

There are times during this revival of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ – adapted as a stage musical in the ’80s from the 1954 MGM film musical classic – that you feel like pinching yourself, just to check you’re not dreaming.

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Until Saturday August 29 2015

American Idiot

The Broadway musical of Green Day’s 2004 concept album ‘American Idiot’ has finally arrived in the West End, in a low-key production starring X-Factor reject Amelia Lily

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Arts Theatre Until Sunday September 27 2015

American Idiot

The Broadway musical of Green Day’s 2004 concept album ‘American Idiot’ has finally arrived in the West End, in a low-key production starring X-Factor reject Amelia Lily. Those words will be enough to sell or put you off the show, but even as someone who spent her formative years in earnest singalongs of ‘Good Riddance’, there’s no nostalgia powerful enough to get me on board.

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Arts Theatre Until Sunday September 27 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

Jonathan Slinger replaces Alex Jennings as Willy Wonka from May 4 2015. A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction.

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane Until Saturday June 4 2016

The Car Man

Critics' choice

What a deliciously lubricious spectacle Matthew Bourne’s ‘auto-erotic thriller’ ‘The Car Man’ is. Created in 2000, this dirty mash-up of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and film noir classic ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ has to be one of his strongest works, so it’s a joy to see it return to the Sadler’s Wells stage (the first time since 2007).

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Sadler's Wells Until Sunday August 9 2015

Richard II

Critics' choice

You can’t quite see Charles Edwards’s excellent Richard II going for a cheeky Nando's, nor do you imagine he’d be much use with the football scores. But compared to recent London Richards – Eddie Redmayme’s ritual-encrusted museum piece, David Tennant’s Ziggy Stardust-esque weirdo – Edwards’s performance as Shakespeare’s doomed monarch is about as close to down to earth as it gets.

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Shakespeare's Globe Thursday August 6 2015 - Sunday October 18 2015

Sinatra: The Man and his Music

When Harry Hill and Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ musical ‘I Can’t Sing!’ crashed and burned at the start of last year, it was like something broke in musical theatre: since then, producers seem to have given up on putting new work into London’s biggest theatre, the 2,000-seat London Palladium.But if no-one living can fill it, perhaps a dead guy can. ‘Sinatra: The Man & His Music’ is, erm… well it’s not a musical; maybe a concert experience (?) in which a full orchestra and a bunch of dancers accompany archive footage of Frank Sinatra, who would have been 100 this year.

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London Palladium Until Saturday October 10 2015

Songs for a New World

If there was a big ol’ rule book on how to succeed in staging song cycles – musical shows with no narrative but some sort of theme, featuring one composer’s songs performed back to back – then rule one would be ‘get a really, really good cast’. Without one, listening to non-stop show tunes can be a little hard, a little flat and a little boring. Director Adam Lenson has definitely adhered to that golden rule.

Read more
St James Theatre Until Saturday August 8 2015

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

There are times during this revival of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ – adapted as a stage musical in the ’80s from the 1954 MGM film musical classic – that you feel like pinching yourself, just to check you’re not dreaming. From ‘Bless Your Beautiful Hide’ to ‘Sobbin’ Women’, it exists in a crazed bubble entirely of its own. It’s Oregon in the 1850s, and Adam (Alex Gaumond) wants a wife to care for him and his six brothers up on the mountain.

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Until Saturday August 29 2015

Twelfth Night

Summer’s here, so inevitably Shakespeare moves outdoors. Bard-beneath-the-stars aficionados Principal Theatre Company bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to Coram’s Fields in an exuberant production that fittingly channels the childhood spirit of this London park. There’s not much room for subtlety in a jam-packed two hours.

Read more
Coram's Fields Until Saturday August 8 2015

The Car Man

Critics' choice

What a deliciously lubricious spectacle Matthew Bourne’s ‘auto-erotic thriller’ ‘The Car Man’ is. Created in 2000, this dirty mash-up of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and film noir classic ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ has to be one of his strongest works, so it’s a joy to see it return to the Sadler’s Wells stage (the first time since 2007).

Read more
Sadler's Wells Until Sunday August 9 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

Jonathan Slinger replaces Alex Jennings as Willy Wonka from May 4 2015. A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction.

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane Until Saturday June 4 2016

Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs

Critics' choice

In a recent interview, legendary British director Mike Leigh proclaimed his friend and collaborator David Halliwell, who died in 2006, ‘one of the great writers who never happened’. Based on this superb fiftieth anniversary revival of this disturbing play (originally directed by Leigh), it’s easy to agree and hard to resist the urge to shout Halliwell’s name from the rooftops.Halliwell’s skill is to start small, almost innocuously, then build up to something monstrous.

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Southwark Playhouse Until Saturday August 1 2015

A Number

Critics' choice

Metaphorically holding up a mirror to society is one thing. Here’s a piece of theatre that challenges each audience member to look themselves directly in the eye. Michael Longhurst’s production of Caryl Churchill’s 2002 play about cloning is staged, by designer Tom Scutt, within a mirrored box. The audience is split into four around its edges, and watches through one-way glass as if observing a police interrogation or a laboratory experiment.

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Young Vic Until Saturday August 15 2015
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